Knappogue Castle (Caisleán na Cnapóige)

Knappogue Castle



Location: County Clare

Constructed: 1467 by Sean MacNamara

Tel. 061 360788

Open: May- Sept 9:30am- 4:30pm (last admission 4pm)

Official site


History of Knappogue Castle


Knappogue Castle is a medieval castle in County Clare in Ireland. It was constructed in 1467 by Sean MacNamara. Clan of MacNamara owed much of the County Clare and established several dozens of castle including this one for the protection of their possessions. In 1649 Knappogue Castle became a base of Oliver Cromwell who used for his own residence. This explains a fairly good preservation state of the structure as well as interior including furniture despite the fact its former owner Donagh MacNamara was one of the leaders of the Irish rebellion. MacNamara regained their Knappogue Castle only in 1660. The fortress eventually start to loose it military importance and became more of the residence rather an imposing citadel. Several windows were made to bring more light inside its rooms. Over time Knappogue Castle was abandoned and fell in disrepair. In 1966 the chateau was bought by an American, Hon. Mark Edwin Andrews from Austin, Texas. He and his wife, an architect, restored this medieval structure of Knappogue Castle to its former significance. Today a museum is open inside. Additionally medieval banquets are held inside the original interior from April till October. A walled garden was recently restored to its former appearance.


The original castle was Seán Mac Conmara (or MacNamara), son of Sioda MacNamara, 1467 built; it is a good example of a late medieval Tower House. Its Name means in German "castle of the place full of small hills".
In 1571 the castle became the seat of the family of MacNamara (Mac Conmara), the Earls of West clan Cullen. Donnchadh Mac Conmara was a leader of the Irish Rebellion in 1641 and Knappogue Castle remained in the hands of the MacNamaras during the entire Irish Confederacy wars of the 1640s. After the conquest of Ireland (1649-1653), it was confiscated in accordance with the Advenutrers’ Act and its new owner was the parliamentary lawyer Arthur Smith.
Arthur Smith lived at the castle from 1659 to 1661. After the monarchy was reintroduced in 1660, Knappogue Castle was returned to the original owner family MacNamara. Later, Francis MacNamara, High Sheriff of County Clare in 1789, sold the castle 1800 to the Scott family from Cahiracon, who subsequently carried out extensive restoration work and expansions. In 1837 the castle belonged to William Scott.
In 1855, Theobald FitzWalter Butler, 14th Baron Dunboyne, acquired the castle. It was the family seat of the Dunboynes. The family continued the restoration work of the Scotts, adding a Salon, a long room and a West Wing, as well as a clock tower and a gate entrance. The reconstruction was carried out under the supervision of the architectural brothers James and George Richard Pain.
In the Irish War of independence (1919-1921) the County administration of County Clare held its meetings at Knappogue Castle, where it was guarded by the East Clare Flying Column. Michael Brennan, commander of the East Clare Brigade, also used the castle as headquarters at that time.
In 1927, the Irish Land Commission bought the estate of Knappogue and the castle was owned by the Quinn family, local farmers who put it down. In 1966, Mark Edwin Andrews, formerly deputy SecNav, bought Castle and estate from Houston, Texas. He and his wife, Lavonne, a well-known American architect, along with the Shannon Free Airport Development Company (Shannon Heritage) and the Board Failte Eireann to 1969 Kappogue Castle is extensively restored. They wanted to use the castle as a Restaurant and private house.
The works made sure that the castle was largely restored to the 15th century, with later buildings, witnesses of the uninterrupted occupation of the castle, being integrated and preserved. The Andrews family later leased part of the castle for a symbolic lease to the Irish government as a cultural and tourist facility.